Traditional Knowledge

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Hae Hawaii published on January 14, 1857.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

Dear Reader, Hawaiian language newspapers were a place for the recording of traditional knowledge: from genealogy, to mele, to place names, to wind and rain names for different lands. The following article by J. W. Q. Kaia of Hanalei, Kauaʻi reports on the traditional naming of the months, and how many days each month had. He does not mention that there are different names for the months depending on what island you were from. This is one of the topics that gets reported on a great deal in the newspapers. It is interesting that already by 1856 he comments that the younger generations were not familiar with the Hawaiian names for the months.

Image: “Hanalei, Kauai, Dec. 25, 1856,” Ka Hae Hawaii, January 14, 1857, p. 182.

Hanalei, Kauaʻi, Dec. 25, 1856

Greetings, O Ka Hae Hawaii:—I am speaking on the reckoning of the months and the days here in Hawaiʻi. Perhaps it has not been widely heard of by the youth and the haole who are subscribing to the Hae, about the way we do our reckoning, along with how the haole do it. Here below are the names of the months and the days:

January, that is ʻIkuā, 30 days
February, that is Welehu, 30 days
March, that is Makaliʻi, 30 days
April, that is Kāʻelo, 30 days
May, that is Kaulua, 30 days
June, that is Nana, 30 days
July, that is Welo, 30 days
August, that is Ikiiki, 30 days
September, that is Kaʻaona, 30 days,
October, that is Hinaiaʻeleʻele, 30 days,
November, that is Hilinehu, 30 days,
December, that is Hilina Mā, 30 days

These months, there are 12, in the reckoning here in Hawaiʻi, and there are 360 days; and with the haole months, there are 365 days for the 12 months.

With regards,

J. W. Q. Kaia

(Ka Hae Hawaii, January 14, 1857, p. 182)

Image: Calendar for November 1906, here showing the name for November on Hawaiʻi being Welehu, on Maui being Hilinehu, on Oʻahu as Kāʻelo, and Kauaʻi as Hilina Mā. The rest of the calendar shows the days of the month in the first column, the Western days of the week, and then the Hawaiian days. (Ka Na’i Aupuni, November 12, 1906, p. 3)

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact Archives@BishopMuseum.org

Image: Unidentified man in boat on Hanalei River; Hanalei Kauaʻi, ca. 1890. Photo by W.E.H. Deverill, Bishop Museum Archies. SP 96237.

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact Archives@BishopMuseum.org.

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